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Unlike the night before, there was little drama at Target Center on Thursday night.

This time, for the Gophers women's basketball team, there wasn't a strong start. The shots didn't fall, the defense could not slow the Michigan Wolverines enough.

"They made life difficult for us," Gophers coach Dawn Plitzuweit said.

On the second day of the Big Ten Conference tournament, the 11th-seeded Gophers' run quickly ended with a 76-57 loss to the sixth-seeded Wolverines (19-12), whose defense slowed the Gophers attack, whose physical play made the entire night a grind.

"On offense, any shot you got you had to work for," said guard Amaya Battle, who finished the two-game tournament run playing on a new, higher level. "And even then it wasn't easy. And they were crashing the boards. They're super physical."

And it was from the start. The Gophers missed eight of their first 10 shots. They were behind by double figures before the game was six minutes old, down 23-12 after one quarter, 37-24 at halftime and 58-41 entering the fourth.

That they continued to work is a credit to the way the Gophers played all year. That they struggled so mightily to score again emphasized the challenges that come from playing without leading scorer Mara Braun and, eventually, starting center Sophie Hart down the stretch of the season.

"It's a challenge to score without those two on the court," Plitzuweit said. "The positive part of that is seeing different players step up."

One shining bright spot was Battle. After a 32-point, seven-assist, five-rebound game in Wednesday's 77-69 victory over Rutgers, Battle scored 22 on 7-for-15 shooting. In two games, in more than 70 minutes of playing time at Target Center, Battle scored 54 points, had 10 assists, seven rebounds and only four turnovers.

Freshman center Aiyanna Johnson scored 12 points on 5-for-10 shooting. Ajok Madol had a career-high 11 on 4-for-7 shooting. Johnson, Battle and Madol were a combined 16-for-32, but the rest of the team made only five field goals.

And that wasn't enough to get past a Michigan attack led by all-­conference player Laila Phelia (23 points), Lauren Hanson (14) and Cameron Williams (11).

BOXSCORE: Michigan 76. Gophers 57

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Michigan had a 13-6 edge on points off turnovers, a 15-2 edge on second-chance points and a 36-24 edge in the paint. The Wolverines had 20 assists on 28 made field goals and committed only seven turnovers.

After falling behind by 14 late in the first quarter, Battle made a buzzer-beating three from just inside the half-court stripe. Then the Gophers scored the first two buckets of the second quarter and that 14-point lead was down to seven. But, out of a timeout, Michigan responded with a 10-2 run to take back control of the game, as it turned out, for good.

Afterward Plitzuweit said she hoped Minnesota's season hadn't ended. Their 16-14 record would qualify them for the WNIT tournament. And there is a chance that either Braun, Hart or both could return in time for that.

"Hopefully we have a chance to continue playing," Plitzuweit said. "Our body of work, I think we put ourselves in position to keep playing. I hope we have a chance to do that."

Her players agreed.

"We're looking forward to continuing to grow our game," said forward Mallory Heyer. She struggled with her shot, scoring two points, but played strong defense and pulled down a career-high 17 rebounds.